GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma Live Thread

After a Long Break, IndyCar Heads to Wine Country [GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma Live Thread]

8/26/12 in IndyCar   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Blog Photo - GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma Live ThreadHello again. It's been a while. Due to my vacation, the Olympics, and an unfortunately inactive race calendar, we haven't had an IndyCar live thread in over a month. In that time, here's what has happened.
  • Helio Castroneves won at Edmonton in a caution-free race. Takuma Sato and Will Power completed the podium.
  • At Mid-Ohio, Scott Dixon got out of pit road before Will Power, and that proved the difference in the race. Dixon won, with Power 2nd, and Simon Pagenaud 3rd. Ryan Hunter-Reay had engine problems and finished 24th.
  • Despite not getting the win, the 2nd at Mid-Ohio was enough to pull Will Power into the points lead. Hunter-Reay sits just 5 points back, with Helio 26 back and Dixon 28 back. With three races to go, we have a 4 way battle for the championship.
Unfortunately, there's also been a lot of off track news and most of it wasn't good.
  • IndyCar hasn't raced in 3 weeks, a result of the cancellation of the China race and the failure to find a replacement.
  • The car owners continue to feud with the series over the costs of parts with Dallara. Under the new contract, Dallara has a monopoly to make all spare parts. Team can not find other suppliers or make them themselves like before. This has caused costs to increase more than what was promised.
  • There are rumors (coming from who else, Robin Miller) that a group of owners are attempting to buy the series from IMS Corp. A story from Curt Cavin quotes most of the owners denying this.
  • In happier news, Texas Motor Speedway will return on next year's schedule. It's looking more likely that all 15 events from this year will return (only Edmonton and Baltimore are up in the air). Houston makes 16 races, and Pocono, Michigan, and a new track in New Orleans are also possibilities. Note that Randy Bernard is considering holding doubleheaders on certain street and road courses.
Finally though, IndyCar heads back to the track and Somona Raceway. To be frank, this track has historically produced the most boring racing of the season. Sponsors love being able to wine and dine in wine country, but for fans at home, the track is known as Snorenoma. There is hope though. One is the DW12, which has improved the racing at places like Barber and Mid-Ohio already this year (although Mid-Ohio was probably still the second most boring race this year after Belle Isle). There have also been some changes to the track in an effort to promote passing. The hope is things are at least better than last year, when those who started 1 through 5 finished in that exact same order.

This weekend so far has all been about Team Penske, particularly Will Power. The points leader has dominated all week, and only his teammate Ryan Briscoe has even been in the same zip code. Not surprisingly, those two make up the front row. The other title contenders, however, are right there in the mix, with Castroneves starting 4th, Dixon 5th, and Hunter-Reay 7th. However, my pick for the race win is Power, who has become unbeatable at Sonoma ever since his big wreck in 2009. My darkhorse is Sebastien Bourdais, who starts 3rd and has been the only driver to break up the Penske/Ganassi duopoly this weekend.

Coverage begins at 4 eastern on NBC Sports Network, with green flag scheduled for approximately 4:42. Timing and scoring can be found here, and More Front Wing's Event Summary can be found here. Q it up here throughout the race.
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8/27/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Championship Standings:

1. Will Power 422
2. Ryan Hunter-Reay -36
3. Helio Castroneves -41
4. Scott Dixon -54
5. Simon Pagenaud -85
6. Tony Kanaan -95
7. James Hinchcliffe -96
8. Ryan Briscoe -105
9. Dario Franchitti -116
10. Graham Rahal -136

We've gone from a tight 4 way title battle to a distinct possibility that Power will clinch the championship at Baltimore.

8/26/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Unofficial Results:

1. Ryan Briscoe
2. Will Power (the yellow kept him from winning, but it's hard to complain about the points result)
3. Dario Franchitti
4. Rubens Barrichello (career high for him in IndyCar if I recall correctly)
5. Graham Rahal
6. Helio Castroneves (he salvaged a decent points day after his deserved early penalty)
7. Simon Pagenaud
8. JR Hildebrand
9. Alex Tagliani (Wanker)
10. Tony Kanaan -1 lap
11. Justin Wilson -1 lap
12. James Jakes -1 lap
13. Scott Dixon -1 lap (Murphy's Law day for him)
14. Mike Conway -1 lap
15. Sebastien Saavedra -1 lap
16. EJ Viso -1 lap
17. Simona de Silvestro -1 lap
18. Ryan Hunter-Reay -1 lap (yeah, he's pissed)
19. Oriol Servia -1 lap
20. Ed Carpenter -1 lap
21. Charlie Kimball -3 laps
22. Sebastien Bourdais DNF (Contact)
23. Josef Newgarden DNF (Contact) (still unknown how severe his reported hand injury is)
24. Katherine Legge DNF (Mechanical)
25. Marco Andretti DNF (Mechanical)
26. James Hinchcliffe DNF (Mechanical)
27. Takuma Sato DNF (Off Course)

Full points to come, but the jist of it is that Power is 36 up on Hunter-Reay.

8/26/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Ryan is mad and may be looking for Tags.

8/26/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Ryan Briscoe wins the GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma! Will Power and Dario Franchitti round out the podium. Full results to come.

8/26/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Briscoe will win barring air strike (tm Pressdog).

8/26/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Servia joins the punt party by taking out Conway. The latter did continue. Servia should expect a penalty.

8/26/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Hunter-Reay punted Viso and now *he* gets a drive through.

Power's still in 2nd, and has Dario right on his rear wing, but he's still in the catbird seat. Helio though has minimized the damage and is 6th. RHR back in 20th, Dixon 15th.

8/26/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Tags rightfully penalized, not that it's much consolation for Hunter-Reay.

8/26/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

So, Will, is Tagliani a wanker now?

Also, Newgarden has an injured left index finger.

8/26/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Briscoe wins the restart, but Tags punts Hunter-Reay and he's not moving! Full course caution.

Wow, Tags might have just decided the championship.

8/26/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

RHR in 3rd. Michael Andretti just interviewed: "He's gonna go for it."

8/26/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

What happened was Power was pitting right before the wreck. Once the wreck happened, Power had to slow down. However, the pits were open, allowing Briscoe to pit while Power was stuck going slow. Thus Briscoe is P1 and Power P2. They will restart side-by-side though.

8/26/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Helio 9th, Dixon 16th

8/26/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Josef walked to the hospital. So that's a good sign. Still waiting for the restart as they repair the wall. Top 5: Briscoe-Power-RHR-Dario-Tags

8/26/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Meanwhile, Power was pitting as that happened, and it held him up enough that Briscoe is now in the lead. He also has a couple of cars separating him and Power. However, since there will less than 20 laps to go when they restart, those cars should be required to move and Briscoe and Power will restart side by side.

8/26/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

So, here's what happened. Bourdais got wide and ended up in the dirt, which got him all out of sorts. Newgarden was behind him and had nowhere to go. They touched and Newgarden hit the tire barrier (with a wall behind it) hard. He's still not out of the car.

8/26/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Crap. Newgarden may be hurt.

8/26/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

First caution since the end of Toronto. We were 21 laps from having three straight caution free races.

8/26/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

WHOA. Caution out. Wreck between Bourdais and Newgarden.

8/26/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

*Bleep* TK stalled it in the pits. Still not refired.

8/26/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Good: Olympic gold medal swimmer Tyler Clary is thinking about getting into racing, starting with Skip Barber.

Bad: Robin Miller got the event Clary won gold in wrong, thus needing a correction by Clary. #fail

8/26/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

And to make it worse for Dixon, as he's been given a drive through for running over an air hose. His title hopes looks all but dashed.

8/26/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Dixon finally comes in to change his wing. He has a long way to go to make it til the end. He's down to 16th.

8/26/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Dixon's wing damage continues to cause him problems. Barrichello has gone by him for 7th.

8/26/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Katherine Legge is out with gearbox problems. This was a special week for Dragon Racing, in that both of its drivers got to run. For the last two races, the normal post-Indy arrangement returns. Bourdais will run Baltimore, and Legge will run at Fontana.

Saavedra, the other interloper in this race, is being an idiot and racing the leader.

8/26/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

TV has barely showed Power. He's dominating that much. He's clinched the 2 bonus points for leading the most laps.

8/26/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

That's two Andretti Autosport cars out with mechanical failures. It might not bode well for Hunter-Reay.

8/26/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Marco Andretti loses the engine and is out.

8/26/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Wow. Dixon has wing damage, locks up the brakes trying to get by RHR, and he needs a new wing. Dario got by Dixon again.

Yep, contact. Dixon hit RHR from behind.

8/26/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Wow. RHR comes out from the pits right in front of the Bourdais-Dixon battle. Bourdais gets by on the outside, but Dixon is still behind him.

8/26/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Dixon's starting to get racy with Bourdais.

8/26/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Second pit cycle starts with Dixon. Hinchcliffe is in the pits and appears done.

8/26/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Hinchcliffe spins in turn 11 (with an assist from Servia). The broadcast got through 23rd place in "Through The Field." That's not a good sign.

8/26/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Robin Miller: "I am prepared to throw myself onto the track to induce a full course caution."

8/26/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Dixon up to 7th after JR pitted (the last to do so) and he passed Rubens in turn 7.

8/26/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Most everyone has cycled through pit stops and Power leads Briscoe by 4 seconds. Bourdais is third 19 seconds back. Yes, 19 seconds. RHR is 6th, Dixon has worked his way back up to 9th, and Helio is 18th.

8/26/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Dixon begins the pit cycle, followed by Helio. Obviously they have little to lose after their early incident.

The race started fun, especially at the new turn 7. Since about lap 3 though it turned back into Snorenoma.

8/26/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Helio was the punter, and has been given a drive through penalty for avoidable contact. Two title contenders have early holes to climb out of.

8/26/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Dixon was punted on the first lap, but kept it going. Tagliani is moving up early.

8/26/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

As the telecast begins, it comes out that a deal has been reached with Dallara to reduce the cost of parts.